I tore down old wood paneling and the Sheetrock behind it is somewhat damaged. I decided to just put 3/8" blue-board over the old wall. My question is. I want to put beadboard paneling half way up the wall. Should I put blueboard over all of the wall or should I just put it on the top half since the bottom will be beadboard. I just don't want a large difference in size between the paneling and new wall.
Paul W. ~ Boston, Massachusetts
Hi Paul, This is one of those "six of one or half dozen of another" questions and there really isn't a right answer. Most of the time when beadboard or any other type of paneling is installed in a room it is going over plaster or sheetrock so it projects from the wall a little bit and adds some definition to the wall. The amount it projects depends on the depth of the beadboard or paneling. Beadboard depth can vary, but most of the time it's somewhere between 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch. Some people install plywood paneling which is about the same depth, but real wood paneling can be about 3/4 inch deep.
The way I have seen it done most of the time is that when real wood wall paneling is being installed at the lower level it is attached directly to the framing and 1/2 inch drywall is installed to the framing above the paneling. This causes the paneling to extend into the room about 1/4 inch further than the sheetrock and allows the definition that I mentioned. Chair rail molding is installed at the transition from the paneling to sheetrock and it's available with a notched rear to account for the difference in thickness between the paneling and the drywall.
When a thinner sheetrock like your 3/8 inch blueboard is being installed, I have usually seen it installed from floor to ceiling and then the thinner beadboard installed over top of it to achieve that same definition. You can then still install your notched chair rail molding at the transition. There is nothing wrong with doing it the way you're thinking about, but you're going to lose that difference in thickness and definition it causes. I think if you tour some of the older homes around Boston, you'll see that with most of them the paneling or beadboard under the chair rail extends into the room further than the drywall or plaster above it.
If your beadboard isn't as thick as your blueboard, I'd definitely install the blueboard behind it, but if they end up with a flush transition, you should be okay. If you do end up with a flush transition, make sure you purchase chair rail that's flat on the back so you have a tight fit. I'm sure Massachusetts has all sorts of mill work shops with different types of trim to choose from.
One thing to keep in mind before you get too far along is that you might have to adjust the depth of your electric outlook boxes regardless of whether you install just beadboard or bead board over the blueboard. If you have one of Boston's old houses and the room has an outside wall, you might want take this opportunity to make sure it has adequate insulation, too.